I'm calling a timeout on 2017.
Truth be known, the year hasn't really got going for me yet. I'm sliding slowly and intentionally into it.
Easy does it.
Yes, we may be careering through this first month, but stress not my dears, we have 11 more to come. So, ditch the diet, I say, and scrap the goals. Put your feet up instead and read on… Rest is part of our natural cycle
and right now is a time for recalibration and revaluation. That means we’re not necessarily preparing for what’s to come, but we’re looking more closely at what’s already here.
You see, this go-slow isn’t just about doing less, but becoming more intentional about what we actually do. It’s not about conserving energy, but investing it better. It’s not all about motivation, but inspiration.
When gleaned from the outside, motivation becomes obligation, an echo of somebody else’s standards. But when it comes from within, it’s inspired, an echo of your deepest desires – it tells of your inner compass, which is needed now more than ever, since these are precarious times.
The urgency of the New Year can pull us out of ourselves. At best, it calls us to explore our desires. At worst, it leads to feelings of anxiety and insecurity. And that’s why I’m asking you to go against the grain. You don’t need to step up your game, you need to step into yourself. Go on, give up those resolutions and give in to yourself instead.
I see so many of us forcing our way through January by being good
, most likely comparing and despairing en route. While envy can be advantageous
, comparison is devastatingly destructive, especially for those who remain loyal to the heavily masculine way of things (men and women alike).
We’re living in a world dominated by patriarchal energy. Its masculine structures rely on promotion, goal setting, key performance indicators, more, better, faster, year upon year. He’s externally motivated, competitive and often unforgiving. He’s all push, no pull.
If, however, we countered this with a more feminine way of things, we’d invest in (self) compassion rather than comparison. We’d learn how to be more forgiving and flexible. She teaches us that life ebbs and life flows, that we don’t all have to be alpha players. She tells us more isn’t always better and we only reap what we sow.
I only started listening to her the year before last, when I finally decided to retreat from it all. I knew I needed a digital detox, I knew I needed to remove all external noise, and I knew I needed to recalibrate my own compass, to pull rather than push
. So I did.
Initially I fell into a fugue state, surprised by the depth of my exhaustion. It was only in slowing down that I finally understood how hard I’d been pushing all year. Had I achieved a lot? Hell, yes. But I’d also made productivity God.
This had left me empty, not that I’d known it. I just kept going and going… until I couldn’t any more. I know I’m not alone in this story. We invest so much time in being seen that we rarely see ourselves. We give so much airtime to other’s words that we barely hear our own, until, at the end of the day (or year), something has to give.
So now it’s my deepest desire that you hold fast to your desires. It’s my wish that you truly get to know your wishes, because who wants to commit to something outside of themselves in order to feel good? Who wants to rely on restrictions or rules? Who wants to be beholden to tough targets?
Goals can actually help us to hate ourselves. They tell us we’re not good enough and we must try harder. And they create conditions for our joy and happiness. But the real aim here is to find joy and happiness within, regardless of condition.
Often we replace our destructive habits with equally destructive goals, substituting one distraction with another. But what is it you wish to be distracted from?
Say, for example, you declare your commitment to a new diet, what are you covering up? Do you really know why you eat in ways that hurt you? What does restricting your calorie intake promise to give you?
This is a promise that’s rarely delivered. When you starve yourself, you experience the complete opposite of what you desire. And yet this contrast sharpens your focus on what you really wanted in the first place – freedom around food, joy in eating, appreciation for your health, love and respect for the body that faithfully carries you through life.
Diets aren’t generally founded in freedom and joy and self-love. They’re motivated by self-loathing. They make us dour and dark and serious. We believe we’re not allowed to taste the good stuff, to have any fun, until we’ve hit this target or crossed that milestone. But truthfully, whatever your desire, it’s likely to come into your life much quicker if you ditch the goal and start having fun instead. You only reap what you sow.
So, whatever your goals for 2017, how do they make you feel?
Are you trying too hard?
Are you pushing when you could be pulling?
If we allow ourselves to relax a little, to find happiness without all the conditions, we can experience ourselves, as we are – hell, we can even enjoy ourselves, as we are. Rather than clawing for ways to make things better, we can simply allow them to be better.
So let’s run with the diet analogy some more…
Say you’re unhappy with your body, rather than trying to change it, rather than rejecting it, why not work with it? Get into your skin. Find ways to move that make you feel good. Dance in your living room. Take a walk somewhere beautiful.
Savour that early morning stretch. Discover how often your body brings you joy every day. Instead of trying to become someone you’re not, find ways to celebrate who you already are.
Take the easy way out, literally. Goals, be damned. Achieve less and become more. More you, more joyful, more free, more empowered, more inspired, more motivated. 2017 will be all that you want it to be, truly, so long as you become the committed caretaker or your own joy, your own desire, your own self – without condition.
Everything worth having comes easy, because everything worth having comes from the inside.